In the fast-moving world of technology, there is always a new trending topic. Right now, 4D printing becomes the new hot topic. In this blog, you will be we try to give you an overview of 4D printing, its technology, uses, and implications.
What is 4D printing?
3D printing, also known as “Additive Manufacturing”, turns digital drawings into physical objects by building them layer by layer. 4D printing is based on this technology. But there is one major difference, it uses unique special materials and appropriate designs which are “Programmed” in your 3D printing and this makes to change its shape.
So basically this is a revamp of 3D printing where special materials are used to print objects that change shape in post-production. A trigger can be water, heat, wind, and other forms of energy.
Who Invented 4D Printing?
You can’t really identify 4D printing with an inventor. Many industry leaders are currently developing 4D printing and also many research facilities. As of 2017, the top 4D research labs/printing companies are MIT’s Self-Assembly Laboratory, 3D printing manufacturer Stratasys, and 3D software company Autodesk.
Many researchers from Australia and Singapore are gaining momentum rapidly. Their contributions expand the range of materials suitable for 4D printing and help bring technology closer to commercialization.
How does 4D printing work?
Imagine having a box printed with a 3D printer. That alone is great, but imagine if that box could automatically flatten out for packing once it was hit by some stimulus. It may be simple to convert a 3D box into 2D(making itself flattened), but it has an immense impact on the business world.
For example, let’s say a trucking company has a warehouse where they store all of their shipping boxes. Every time this company gets a shipment order, it delivers the goods to the receiver and can take the box with them just by flattening it, so that they can reuse the boxes for other orders to ship the goods.
Now, imagine that this same company flips 5,000 trucks in one day. Therefore, they have to hire 200 people to constantly break the boxes for shipment. At $ 10 / hour, assuming a 7-hour workday, Tucker Trucking pays these basic labor employees $ 14,000 / day.
So by having boxes that flatten on stimulus, such a company could save roughly $ 5 million each year! And the above one is among the various uses of 4D printing.
In 4D printing, you need trigger mechanisms:
In 4D printing, you need some stimuli or triggers to start the transformation. The stimuli can be water, heat, light, or electrical currents. There are other forms of triggers, some of which need to be explored in depth through research.
For some of these processes, you need special materials that can react to these triggers. It makes objects “programmable” and runs its 3D printed “genetic code” whenever you want it to be activated.
Other research labs focus on “programming” the desired shape of the object into the microstructure of standard materials. This way of approach can help us to make use of microscopic structural discoveries. When correctly configured, they show the desired deformation of the macrostructure. The advantage is that 4D printed objects can take advantage of existing 3D printers and materials.
Hope you enjoyed our blog. See you soon with a new innovation that can turn the world upside down.